Saturday, December 30, 2006

From 4 to 300 Million

Happy almost new years. As part of my year-end wrap-up, here's third in a series from Time mag looking at the state of the nation. Today: population growth. We've grown from 4 to 300 million in a little over 200 years, and are projected to hit 400 million by the year 2050. India and China still have more people than us, though.

Friday, December 29, 2006

America by the Numbers: Religion

As part of my year end wrap-up, I'm uploading graphics from a Time magazine article called America at 300 million.

Today: religion. Over three-quarters of all Americans are either Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Mainline Protestant. Below - where each group lives.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Where We All Live

As part of my year end wrap-up, over the next few days I'm going to be uploading an interesting recent cover story by Time Magazine on America at 300 million. It does an elegant job graphically describing who we are.

Today: where we all live. The top five most densely populated areas are New York, LA, Chicago, Philly, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Go New York! New Jersey is the most densely populated state. You might ask why. I have no answers. On the other side of the spectrum, Alaska has only one person per square mile, and Loving County, Texas is the most sparsely populated state in the contiguous US.

Click to see the map larger.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santacon - Bringing Santas Together Since 1996

From Missed Connections, the aftermath of many many Santas drunkenly lusting after each other. Do you think any of them will ever find each other?

"I met you at the bar when we lost our respective santas. We watched the bad strippers; you commented on the downside of drinking white russians. You took off with your friend who'd lost her purse. I wish I'd asked you for your number; I'd love to hang out again." santacon at splash - m4w - 35

"I was so drunk and I never bothered to remember your name. Sorry, I'm a prick. I was the guy in the santa outfit." m4w - 26

And from the SF site: "I still have my Santa suit from last weekend's Santacon. Wondering if there's a little girl out there who wants to "persuade" Santa that she deserves everything on her Christmas list. Have you been naughty or nice?" Santa's horny - m4w - 29 (SOMA / south beach)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Santacon; Or, How I Learned to Stop Kvetching and Love Christmas

In fifteen years there's going to be an influx of kids from the midwest coming to New York for college, hoping to recreate that magical Christmas when Santas swarmed the streets. They probably think we do this every day.

Curious neighborhood girls on Delancey Street watch the Santas gear up.

Emerging from the subway at Bryant Park, one Santa shows his punk rock roots.

An ... um ... elf humping raindeer dance. Yep.

Anti-colonial protesters take a break. Sign reads "USA out of North Pole."

Santas on the bar at the Irish Rogue in Times Square.

Hannukah Harry takes a hit.

Taking a spin on the Central Park carousel.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shots from 11 Spring

An amazing, overwhelming show. Props to the new owners for doing this. More photos here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cool Shit This Weekend

SantaCon Saturday, originally uploaded by Shield.

You must dress like Santa, you should ho-ho-ho like Santa, you ought to give out gifts like Santa, and (of course) ya gotta drink like Santa. Get creative: be a Secret Santa, a Santasaurus, Candy-cane, a Reindeer, a Chanukah Chicken, a goddamn latke. Just don't wear your fucking jeans.
It's a long day, so be prepared. Bring a Metrocard. Stay with the group. Try not to drunkenly wander off, though. How hard is it to lose 500 Santas? Pay your own damn bar tab.
Check website for meet-up location in Manhattan, 10:10am Saturday

Wooster Collective at 11 Spring
It's time to say farewell to 11 Spring Street, which has been a gathering point for graffiti by New York, national and international graffiti artists over the past twenty years. Now, 11 Spring has been sold and will be turned into condos. The new buyers are cognizant of the important part this building has played in New York graffiti life, and want to honor it through a final hurrah.
Over the past two months, graffiti artists have covered the entire inside of the building, five stories in all, with their work. The building will be open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11 to 5. Monday morning, they'll start sealing the art up behind drywall as they transform the building into condos: a full-building time capsule.
Artists include Shepard Fairey, WK, Jace, Swoon, David Ellis, FAILE, Cycle, Lady Pink, London Police, Prune, JR, Speto, D*Face, JMR, Blek Le Rat, John Fekner, Bo and Microbo, Above, BAST, Momo, Howard Goldkrand, Borf, Gaetane Michaux, Skewville, Michael DeFeo, Will Barras, Kelly Burns, Abe Lincoln, Jr, Thubdercut, Judith Supine, Rekal, Maya Hayuk, Anthony Lister, Stikman, You Are Beautiful, Gore-B, Elboe-Toe, MCA, Jasmine Zimmerman, Plasma Slugs, Diego, RIPO, The Graffiti Research Lab, Txtual Healing, Mark Jenkins, Dan Witz, Iminendisaster, Rene Gagnon, and others.
11 Spring, 11am-5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Erotic Arts Show at Williamsburg White Room
Open bar from 7- 8 pm, with complimentary snacks to enjoy while you view the many beautiful, affordable works for sale ( last minute present idea anyone??). DJ Fatsakz will be spinning funk, soul, and R-N-B from 7 – 10 pm, and then they’ll have several musical performances including a Janis Joplin cover set, some load raucous rock-n-roll from local NY band Wrong, and DJ Lucas spinning a variety of hits to take us into the late night.
208 S. 3rd St, Williamsburg, Saturday 7 pm to late

Billionaires for Bush present The Billionaire Follies in Dick Cheney's Holiday Spectacular
It's Christmas Eve. A beleaguered last-minute shopper is desperate to find the hottest toy of the season at All-Mart when a holiday shopping brawl knocks her unconscious and catapults her into Dick Cheney's Holiday Spectacular 2006. It a macabre, hilarious world of bling, billionaires, and season's greed-ings featuring all of Dick's favorite carols. Highlights include: We Three Kings of Petroleum Are, Toys for the World (Are Made by Kids), and The Halliburton Chorus. This twisted holiday revue also features the 24-Carat Rockettes, a special girls night with Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney, and a reenactment of Dick's favorite film, It's a Wonderful Presidency.
Ace of Clubs, 9 Great Jones, 8pm Sunday; $15

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

RIP 11 Spring

It's time to say farewell to 11 Spring Street, which has been a gathering point for graffiti by New York, national and international graffiti artists over the past twenty years. Now, 11 Spring has been sold and will be turned into condos. The new buyers are cognizant of the important part this building has played in New York graffiti life, and want to honor it through a final hurrah.

Over the past two months, graffiti artists have covered the entire inside of the building, five stories in all, with their work. The building will be open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11 to 5. Monday morning, they'll start sealing the art up behind drywall as they transform the building into condos: a full-building time capsule.

Full story [NY Times]

Most Americans Think They're Not As Racist As Others Are: Social Psychologists Explain

A new CNN poll found that most Americans think that racism is still a problem, but that other people are racist, not them.

Social psychology may provide an explanation. There's a body of research that explores why people tend to hold overly optimistic views about themselves. Among other things, people tend to selectively recall their past behavior, remembering the good and forgetting the bad; and they evaluate themselves in an overly positive manner - the "above-average effect."

In one fascinating article, Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own. Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning tried to figure out how this could be. In four tests, they evaluated participants' humor, logical reasoning, and grammar, and also asked participants for a self-evaluation in these areas. They found that those who got the lowest scores in the objective evaluations scored among the highest in the self-evaluation.

Kruger and Dunning concluded that those with limited knowledge ("unconscious incompetents," in management-speak) not only don't know, they don't know that they don't know. David Rakoff of the NY Times cautions us not to intepret this to mean simply that "it's the idiots who are always most certain they're right." Rather, he suggests, "what's most telling is the very ease with which the study lends itself to carping zingers about everyone else's stupidity. It speaks directly to our anxious desire to distance ourselves, as loudly as possible, from incompetent people -- as if incompetence were subject to that same you-are-or-you-aren't dichotomy as pregnancy."

But, he concludes "of course, you can be a little bit incompetent. All of us are." Just like we're all a little bit racist. We just don't want to admit it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus

The Nietzsche Family Circus pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote. Eternal truths, those.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How to Be a New Yorker: 1964 Edition

how to be a new yorker, originally uploaded by Shield.

File under: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I found How to Be a New Yorker at the Strand. This book by Joan & Leslie Rich is from 1964, but a lot of the markers of New York City life appear to be immutable. Among them: don't bother moving for the door until the subway stops; jay-walk; grunt when you're buying things.

An modern list of how to be a New Yorker, from an Australian expat:

Dress in black, despise most men (if you're female), cancel lunches, have a therapist and if you are single, have a listing on one of the many personals columns. As far as the lingo's concerned, you can get by even with an accent, if you sprinkle your conversation with a few "Puhleeze"s and "Fuhgedaboudit"s. If you want to be a really polished New Yorker, you could add in the dog or cat and make sure you have a socially cool New York type job - Wall street, freelancing something or other in the arts or acting.

The same. But different.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Classic Restaurant Rivalries (or: Food Feuds)

Italian Heros
Manganaro's Hero Boy versus Manganaro's Food & Restaurant
The New York Times calls it "one of the city's longest and messiest food fights." Salvatore Manganaro, 74, and his youngest brother, James, 66, own Italian sandwich stores next to each other on Hell's Kitchen's Ninth Avenue. The family has been running these businesses for 100 years, and the two brothers have been giving each other the silent treatment for the past 25 years over who has the right to use their family's name and who can claim to have invented the 6-foot hero sandwich. As one young reviewer said, "this feud has been going on for far longer than I’ve been alive, and I’d bet for long after I’m dead."

Lombardi’s vs. Totonno’s vs. John’s vs. Patsy’s vs. Grimaldi’s
If you were to draw a family tree of New York pizza, Lombardi's, started in 1905, would be the grandpapi of the clan. Pizzamakers trained at Lombardi's went on to open Totonno's in Coney Island (Anthony Totonno Pero in 1917), John's Pizza in the Village (John Sasso in 1929), and Patsy's in East Harlem (Patsy Lancieri in 1933). In the third generation of pizzarias spawned from Lombardi's, Patsy Lancieri's nephew Patsy Grimaldi, who had worked at Patsy's since he was 10 years old, opened Grimaldi's in Brooklyn Heights in 1990.

Minangasli versus Padang Raya (RIP)
First, Rahman Imansjah was a customer at Nani Tanzil's warung run out of her kitchen. In June 2004, he bought a restaurant, Padang Raya, and they became business partners. They made it to February of 2005. He fired Tanzil, and six months later she opened Minangasli four doors away on Whitney Avenue. The New York Times explains that "the name of her restaurant, which means 'authentically Minang' and is a reference to a Padang ethnic group, is a not-so-subtle dig at her former partner," who is from Kalimantan Island, a culinarily different area of Indonesia. In April of 2006, Padang Raya became Jakarta Mie, a Javanese noodle warung.

Magnolia versus Buttercup et cetera.
Magnolia has spawned a cupcake family line of Old Testament proportions, complete with rivalries, hatred, and a creation myth. Jennifer Appel of Magnolia acknowledges she didn't invent cupcakes (see, she's humble!), but lays claim to the specific type of cupcake cafe which she sees replicated around the city, most bitterly at Buttercup, which she started with was started by her former business partner Allysa Torey. Appel's franchising director says “She’s like the cupcake godmother. If you did a family tree of cupcakes in New York, she spawned out the seven families. She’s the Don Corleone of cupcakes.”

Philly Cheesesteak
Pat's versus Geno's (Philadelphia)
Pat Olivieri, who opened Pat's King of Steaks as a hot dog stand near South Philadelphia's Italian Market back in 1930, claims to have invented the Philly Cheesesteak. Geno's opened in 1967, and they've stared each other down across a barren patch of South Philly pavement like Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa ever since. Geno's owner Joe Vento claims that they made the cheesesteak what it is today by being the first to add cheese, although they concede that Pat's is responsible for the later introduction of Cheese Whiz (thus adding the phrase 'whiz wit' to American English). And, of course, they hate each other. Vento explains that the reason people eat at Pat's is that "you can acquire a taste for bad food."

Where are they?
Manganaro's Hero Boy, 492 Ninth Ave., between 37th and 38th Sts; 212 947-7325
Manganaro's Food & Restaurant, 488 Ninth Ave., between 37th and 38th Sts; 212-563-5331
Lombardi’s, 32 Spring Street, New York; 212 941-7994
John’s Pizzeria, 278 Bleecker Street, New York; 212 243-1680
Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano, 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn; 718 372-8606
Grimaldi's, 19 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718 858-4300
Minangasli, 86-10 Whitney Avenue at Macnish Street, Elmhurst, Queens; 718 429-8207.
Magnolia Bakery, 401 Bleecker St. @ 11th St.; 212 462-2572
Buttercup Bake Shop, 973 2nd Ave between 51st & 52nd St; 212 350-4144
Pat's King of Steaks, 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia; 215 468-1546
Geno's Steaks, 1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, 215 389-0659

Got a rivalry to suggest? Write me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Racial Dividing Lines in Brooklyn

In an article looking at Ratner's Atlantic Yards project through the prism of race, the New York Times produced the above map of racial distributions in central Brooklyn.

Flatbush Ave cleaves black and white Brooklyn, with much of the area to the northeast of Flatbush more than 50% or 75% black, and much of the area to the southwest of Flatbush more than 50% or 75% white. Areas of downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Gowanus are "diverse," meaning neither blacks nor whites make up more than 50% of the population.

I would love to see data comparing changes in neighborhood racial demographics to changes in what neighborhood an area is called. The area considered Park Slope several years ago pushed below 5th Avenue, and is now creeping below 4th Avenue, if not further. The map shows that this corresponds to a diverse area that is becoming more white. Similarly, will the dividing line between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights continue to move west, paralleling the movement by whites into a neighborhood that had been almost exclusively black?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Maps of Imaginary Worlds: My Father's Dragon

Map from My Father's Dragon, originally uploaded by Shield.

My Father's Dragon was written in 1944 by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. Fifty years later, the story was made into an anime movie in Japan.

The book is about the main character, Elmer Elevator, running away to Wild Island to rescue a baby dragon. Here's the map of his world.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

War Wagon in the South Bronx

Firehouse 71 in the South Bronx calls itself the War Wagon - perhaps referencing the fires that ravaged the South Bronx in the 70s, or perhaps signaling a 'pull your wagons 'round' seige mentality.

Company 71 has been serving the Morrisania neighborhood since 1899. On the 100th anniversary of the company, the company reminiscenced about the early days of the company:

The work chart for the turn of the century fireman was very simple. He worked a 24-hour tour for five days in a row with one day off. Twice a month he could take a 12-hour leave, which could not be used with his 24-hour leave. He could go home for meals three times a day for an hour each time or he could go home twice a day for an hour and half or once for three hours. Back during this time, the Bronx was a slow area and occasionally a fire run would come in. Most of the time the men would be busy caring for the horses, house watch duties, building and hydrant inspections, messenger duties to the Battalion or Division and being detailed to another fire company for sick or vacation time. Another duty was the theater detail where one man would be assign to a movie house to make sure the theater was not over crowded and the aisles block. This duty was rotated around the men in the company. Some districts had several movie houses while other few or none.
Life's a little different now, but the War Wagon's still there.

For another quirky New York firehouse, check out The Friendly Firehouse of Flatbush Ave.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving and the Blow-Up Dolls Descend on Manhattan

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Staten Island Pizza Ride

Last weekend I set off with biking buddies Anna and Etan to do a Staten Island bike ride to the major Staten Island pizza places. Nunzio's, Denino's, and Nucci's, as the most commonly top-rated SI pizza places, were on the itinerary. Pat & Joe's was a little too far off the route, but I want to hit it next time.

It was a fast seven mile ride along the south shore waterfront from the ferry to our first stop. Nunzio's is on a very busy suburban-esque intersection. There's a sit-down restaurant, and a separate entrance for take-out. At first glance it looked like we were going to have to chow our slices on the sidewalk, but then we saw that there was a long counter inside the take-out entrance. Etan spied on the kitchen and reported back that their cheese method is to cut the cheese into blocks, rather than grating it thinly on top - a method that supposedly keeps the cheese from breaking down as fast at high temperatures. The slice was decent, but the crust was too thick for my taste. If I want Sicilian, I'll order Sicilian. But the hand-grated parm on the counter was a nice touch, and there was a basil leaf baked into each of our slices that was delish.

Back on our bikes. On the way to Denino's, we saw a decrepit brick building covered with graffiti. Of course, we had to explore. We thought it was a state institution called Willowbrook that was shut down in the 80s, but it turned out to be a poorhouse, as in what you read about in Dickens, as in the forerunner to the shelter system. Stay posted for more on this.

By the time we got to Denino's, they were no longer serving slices (when we got there they told us they only serve slices until 3pm). That was a bummer. Denino's been around since 1937, and definitely had the best Island atmosphere of all three places. But all of us had neglected to bring lights for our bikes and it was getting dark, so we hauled ass, courtesy of Etan's GPS gadget, to our third and final stop.

Nucci's was in a small suburban strip mall. The teenagers working there made me flash back to my own suburban childhood, but luckily for all I didn't start crying. The pizza was excellent. Thin crust, good sauce, good proportion of cheese. More hand-grated parm on the counter. Is this a Staten Island thing? Regardless, I like it.

So. Bottom line? Staten Island didn't quite live up to its pizza hype, but it's got a damn fine slice if you happen to be there. And if you can combine it with some urban exploration, even better.

Photo at Nunzio's by Anna Le Mon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Engineering Public Space

Since becoming preoccupied with bike lanes, I've been thinking a lot about how the way a public space is designed can subtly control how people use the space. With bike lanes, I've been wondering whether the way that New York bike lanes are designed unintentionally invite drivers to park in them.

Dan Lockton, at the Architectures of Control Blog, writes about features designed into city layouts, buildings, and goods that are intended to influence user behavior. He calls these design features 'forcing functions' or 'techniques of persuasion.' Recently he wrote about a counterintuitive article in New Urban News. The article reported that roads planted with trees cause drivers to slow down, and drive with more awareness and caution.
Eric Dumbaugh, an assistant professor of transportation at Texas A&M ... looked at accident records and found that, on the contrary, wide-open corridors encourage motorists to speed, bringing on more crashes. By contrast, tree-lined roadways cause motorists to slow down and drive more carefully, Dumbaugh says.

Dumbaugh examined crash statistics and found that tree-lined streets experience fewer accidents than do “forgiving roadsides” — those that have been kept free of large, inflexible objects. He points to “a growing body of evidence suggesting that the inclusion of trees and other streetscape features in the roadside environment may actually reduce crashes and injuries on urban roadways”…

Dan Burden, senior urban designer for Glatting Jackson and Walkable Communities Inc. in Orlando, notes that there is research showing that “motorists need and benefit from tall vertical roadside features such as trees or buildings in order to properly gauge their speed.”

How could New York design roads, sidewalks and bike lanes in ways that similarly influence driver behavior in positive ways? And how can we identity and remedy public spaces that are producing unintended behaviors that run counter to intended uses?

Turkey Hunt 06

This Saturday, November 18th, is the 2nd Annual NYC Turkey Hunt - an all city scavenger hunt. Scavengers meet up at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park, Houston St. between Forsyth & Chrystie St., on the stairs, at 1pm. Come ready to rock with $5.00, a team of 3, a bag, and a digital camera. The earlier version of this flyer on myspace said "You must have fun! No fuckin around...ACT BUCK WILD!"

Get Stoned and Watch This

The Map of the Known Universe, by Seb Chevrel. I could watch this for hours. It's a 3D projection based on astronomical data that takes the viewer on a journey through the brightest stars in the night sky. Chevrel is an artist, designer and programmer who focuses on interactive media. Click on the image and sit back.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Missed Connections: Williamsburg meets Domino's Brooklyn-Style Pizza

This Craigslist Missed Connections is very of-the-moment: not only does it have a Williamsburg single-speed riding hipster, it's got Domino's new "Brooklyn-style pizza."
Williamsburg Girl Who Shared a Brooklyn-Style Pizza With Me - m4w - 26
We were at the pizza parlor, ordering sodas, debating the merits of dominos' Brooklyn - style pizza. I was the non-tall dude with the dark hair who rode in on his single speed bike, handing out voter information, and you were the ipod belle with the attitude. We had so much fun together eating that pie that we forgot to exchange telephone numbers or emails or AIM info. But we did exchange knowing glances, the kind that say "yeah, I'm digging you today so much I could dig myself a hole to jump into if you would jump in with me." People around us felt our kewl vibe.

So let's meet, and let's have a pizza in Little Italy, which is where all the real Pizzaria are. I want you to have a taste of a slice of my life, and it comes both with veggies and sausage.
For more on the travesty of Domino's "Brooklyn-style pizza" campaign:
"Does this mean that middle America will soon think Brooklynites like crappy pizza?" [Gothamist]
"Help us, Marty Markowitz!" [Room Eight]
"Brooklyn has been molested, kidnapped, and raped constantly of its identity by marketing hounds." [Metroblogging NYC]
"Why order it at all when live in New York City? To that I answer: For you, dear reader. I eat this stuff so you don't have to." [Slice]

For more CL Missed Connection gems, check out The Gowanus Lounge.

Borat Gets Sued

I just saw the Borat movie and kept thinking that this movie is sure to get the pants sued off Sasha Baren Cohen. Well, here's the first volley.

Two frats boys from a university in South Carolina have now come to regret their racist musings on how great it would be to still have slaves, and are suing Borat for, among other things, fraud and portraying them in a false light.

According to the lawsuit, Borat got them liquored up first, and told them the movie wouldn't be shown in the United States. That's a big part of why they're angry - they never thought other Americans would see what they have to say, and now their frat brothers are sitting in the theater laughing at them.

Read their lawsuit, courtesy of

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Benefit Gig to Fight East Vill Mass Eviction

A Columbia University dean has bought a fifteen unit, rent-stabilized building in the East Village and is trying to evict everyone. Why? So they can turn the building into a mansion for their daughter.

The tenants at 47 East 3rd Street managed to get a New York trial court to grant a permanent injunction, so that the new owners, Kathryn and Peter Yatrakis, will have to get approval from the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal in order to refuse to renew the tenants' leases. Rather than seek approval from DHCR, the Yatrakis are appealing the court's decision.

The 47E3rd residents have spent over $170,000 towards legal fees so far. They're throwing a benefit for their legal defense fund this Friday at Tonic. PennyRimbaud, Louise Elliott and Japanther are playing, and there's going to be a screening of Yes Sir, I Will by 80s punk band Crass. They're also raffling off two signed Crass litho prints. [flyer]

Admission $10 @ Tonic, 107 Norfolk Street
Read more on the 47E3rd website.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Peds vs Bikes vs Cars - What to Do?

Today in the New York Times, Samuel I. Schwartz, transportation columnist for The Daily News and the Department of Transportation’s assistant commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch, lays out the history of bike lanes in the City and proposes what we need to do to create more sensible transportation policy and better relations between pedestrians, bikers and cars.

Schwartz explains that Mayor Koch was first exposed to bike lanes on a trip to Beijing:
Mayor Ed Koch ... buoyed by a visit to Beijing, where he saw bike lanes used by tens of thousands, envisioned a network of physically separated bikeways up and down Manhattan.

In the summer of 1980, the mayor directed the department to install bikeways. From Washington Square Park to Central Park, the curb lanes of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and Seventh Avenue were separated from traffic by asphalt islands, giving bikers a lane of car-free roadway all their own.
The bike lanes were physically separated from car traffic using raised islands. New Yorkers had trouble adjusting to the bike lanes, and complaints poured in.
The department’s investigation found that pedestrians considered the bike lanes to be extensions of the sidewalk; they stood in the lanes waiting for the lights to change, where bikers often yelled at them. Mr. Koch made his own observations and found many bike riders traveling outside the lanes. He had us install traffic signs along the bike lanes in typical Koch-ese — “Use it or Lose it.” But even though the lanes were largely successful — and car traffic didn’t slow nearly as much as people thought — criticism mounted.
Faced with criticism, the mayor directed that the barriers separating bike and car traffic be removed, and that the bike lanes be marked only by painted lines. In hindsight, Schwartz thinks this was the wrong decision.
I think we made a mistake. We succumbed to the emotions of the moment. Had we kept the bigger picture in mind, we could have produced a network of separate bike lanes, a widespread public education program and tough enforcement that would have combined to promote good transportation policy and safety.
Now that New York has had 26 years of experience with bike lanes and bike policy, Schwartz has some thoughtful suggestions for the future. Among them:
  • we need to establish a clear hierarchy for the use of city streets. Pedestrians come first; we started out as a walking city and it will be our greatest strength going forward. This means bikers must yield to pedestrians — even errant ones. Biking is a superb form of transport we should encourage. Drivers must yield to bike riders — even errant ones.
  • let’s advance the network of bike lanes citywide. I’d even re-introduce physically separate bike lanes. This program needs to be communicated in a mass campaign explaining rules of the road and each group’s responsibility. For example, drivers need to know they are forbidden to enter a bike lane to turn; bikers need to know that they must not block crosswalks; pedestrians must learn they can’t use bike lanes as sidewalks.
Words of wisdom from someone who's been there.
Full op-ed: Rolling Thunder.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What's On This Weekend

It's going be crisp but oh-so-sunny this weekend. What to do?

Williamsburg White Room Grand Opening
The opening of a new art space featuring 15 local artists. Open bar 8-9, DJs and live music.
S 3rd and Roebling, 7pm to 3am

Brazen Head Cask Ale Festival
22 cask ales from all over. Brooklyn Record describes cask ales as "hand-drawn to perfection and served in pint or half-pint glasses at a civilized temperature."
Brazen Head, 228 Atlantic Ave (between Court and Boerum Place), Saturday and Sunday

Walking Tour of Atlantic Yards
Organized by New York Like a Native walking tours, find out what the Atlantic Yards really looks like and where Ratner's baby is supposed to go. The best way to understand the controversy -- including issues of scale, design, and blight -- is to take a look around the proposed site and the surrounding neighborhood. The tour should run between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.
1:30PM, Williamsburgh Savings Bank, $15.

Reverend Billy's Revival
The Brooklyn Lyceum will be the site of some fabulous exorcisms, prayers, shouts, and radical gospel with the Church of Stop Shopping. The Reverend and the choir kick off their All Borough Revival Tour in the Wal-Mart-and-Ratner resistant borough of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 4th Ave at President (R to Union), 4pm, $10

NYC Marathon
Pro women start at 9:35; pro men and the rest of the field at 10:10. A few good places to watch: Mile 14 at 23rd Street in Queens; 4th Avenue in Brooklyn; Mile 15 near Queensboro Plaza; Mile 18 near First Ave and East 86th St in Manhattan; near the finish at 90th and 5th Ave. Where to eat along the marathon route from Zagat's.

The Impeach Bush Jogging Circus
A mobile carnival of jugglers, joggers, clowns, hula hoopers, and a 10-plus piece jogging kazoo band are running the NYC Marathon as a team.
Mile 17, 1st Avenue and 66th Street, Manhattan, noonish; $free

Friday, November 03, 2006

NYC Marathon Elevation Map

That's a mean hill at the start of the marathon. You get another doozy at mile 15, but the planners saved their most dastardly scheme for the last few killer miles - rolling hills from mile 23 on. Plan your race strategy, or just figure out where you want to watch, using the marathon organizers' official elevation chart. Click for a pdf of the full elevation map.
The marathon is Sunday November 5th.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vote for Nurse Ratched! - Fictional Campaign Sign Contest

The Morning News is running a contest inviting you to submit photos of actual campaign signs for fictional candidates. Got that? Real signs, fake candidates. Deadline is this Friday, November 3rd, at midnight. Start painting those placards.

Happy Halloween, Spooky

Washington Square Park, by Joe's NYC

Where Do All Those Damn Tourists Come From?

Worldmapper, out of the University of Sheffield, has signed the death warrant for the standard world map that hung in our world history classrooms. Instead, they give us maps where the countries expand or shrink like distended balloons based on variables like income, population, and more. Here you can compare the origins of tourists across the globe with the origins of refugees.

Tourists made 665 million trips in 2003. Most were residents of Western Europe, North America and Eastern Europe. From Central Africa, South Eastern Africa and Southern Asia - not so much. While residents of Antigua and Barbuda left their islands 3.66 times per year (lucky bastards!), residents of Angola traveled on average 0.0002 times per year.

In 2003 there were 15 million refugees and internally displaced persons internationally. The highest numbers came from (1) Serbia and Bosnia, (2) Iraq, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.